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Nima Joharizadeh, Advait Sarkar, Andrew D. Gordon, & Jack Williams


Spreadsheets allow end users to blend calculations with arbitrary layout and formatting.

However, when it comes to reusing groups of formulae along with layout and formatting, spreadsheets provide only limited support. Most users rely on copy and paste, which is easy to learn and use, but maintaining several copies can be tedious and error-prone.

We present the concept of Gridlets, an abstraction over calculation and presentation applicable in common use case scenarios. Using the Cognitive Dimensions of Notations framework, we compare Gridlets to copy/paste and sheet-defined functions.

We find that Gridlets are consistent with the spreadsheet paradigm, enable users to take advantage of secondary notation, and make common edit operations less viscous and less error-prone.


Example of a Gridlet
Example of a Gridlet

A Gridlet is a copy of a range including formatting, with local modifications applied to the range, and a live link to the copied range.

The example Gridlet reads: "Take the source range A3:B11, replace B4 with 300000, B5 with 40000, B6 with 40, and B7 with 0.027, and then calculate the value of the range as an array."

Thus, the formula specifies a portion of the grid to copy, and a list of substitutions to make within that copy. Formulas can also be substituted.


2020, CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, April

Full article

Gridlets: Reusing spreadsheet grids